Spring 2015 Call for Students

School for Poetic Computation (SFPC) will host a ten week session in New York City from March 16th - May 22nd, 2015. SFPC is an ideal environment for students to develop and further a deep curiosity of what it means to work poetically in computational media.

SFPC is not a technical bootcamp. Rather, it is an opportunity to work creatively with a small group of faculty, visiting artists, and peers to explore artistic practice and critical technologies through computation.

Computation is poetic when technology is used for critical thinking and aesthetic inquiry – a space where logic meets electricity (hardware), math meets language (software) and analytical thinking meets creative experimentation.

SFPC has held three successful sessions to date: ten weeks in Fall 2013 which culminated in an exhibition at Eyebeam Art and Technology Center, a two week session in Spring 2014, and another ten week session in Fall 2014. The Spring 2015 session will be held at Orbital in the Lower East Side for ten weeks.

At SFPC we build up from the fundamentals of computation in both technical and conceptual ways, seeking opportunity for artistic intervention.

What is the School for Poetic Computation?

SFPC is an alternative school for art and technology. We are striving to create a model of education based on collaboration between faculty and students. By participating you will be actively shaping an emerging culture of open source and transparent education.

You can read some articles about the kind of work that’s developed at SFPC: Yahoo Tech, video sketch of the final day at Seen in NY and also students’ reports on their time at the school can be found here: Ida, Lee.

What will happen in ten weeks?

  • 15 participants in one session.
  • 24/7 access to work space at Orbital, 155 Rivington Street, in Manhattan’s Lower East Side.
  • Daily classes on programming, electronics, history and theory of computation and related topics.
  • Classes vary in length and are usually held from Monday-Friday between 10am and 5pm.
  • Teachers and mentors available for technical, conceptual and artistic guidance.
  • Workshops with visiting artists.
  • Visits to institutions, schools, and art spaces.
  • Reading and discussion group.
  • Weekly dinners with special guests.
  • Peer to peer collaboration is highly encouraged among participants.

What formal classes will happen this term?

We support self-guided research and inquiry into a number of areas, and have structured our classes around the following concepts. Of particular interest are:

  • Computation and artistic practice — Algorithmic processes and concepts have been manifest in art and design throughout the twentieth century. How can we explore the influence of algorithms in practice and develop new approaches and techniques for utilizing them? What is the fundamental nature of computation and how can we work with it in a lyrical, expressive manner?
  • Animation and interaction — Artists have always used different technology to animate—from early zoetropes to hand drawn etched film—and with programming, there is a new branch of a long tradition forming. How can code make things move in compelling and lifelike ways?
  • Language design as creative practice — Every programming language has specific parameters and demands certain processes in its use, we consider the subtle differences and approaches that have shaped various languages throughout history. This area focuses also on ways to design programming languages from scratch and asks how can language design open up new ways of thinking, making and building software? How can we build better tools and with that, better possibilities for ourselves?
  • Theory and philosophy for technology — With contemporary society and our collective future irrevocably changed by ubiquitous technology, what critical questions can we, the makers, artists and technologists pose to society? What can we learn from the history of technology and how can we draft the future we like to see?
  • Building the uncommon ground — The degree of access to artistic computational tools is largely a product of race, gender, sexuality, geography, and class. How can we use our skills and resources to bridge these divides? This area focuses on developing teaching tools, systems, and approaches to help bring poetic computation to diverse communities.
  • Pedagogy, strategies for learning and teaching — How do you learn new things? What sorts of environments and communities foster a nurturing space and an ongoing practice of learning?
  • Assistive technologies — How artistic and computational works can be an enabling force, helping people living in different ways and offering new means of communication and expression? What are the inventive ways of confronting the concept of normalcy? How can art help people adapt to the new challenges created by technology?

The idea behind these interconnected topics is to build on SFPC’s core curriculum by exploring common ground where we can take the ideas developed in our classroom into the streets and studio. We see them as platforms to help promote fearless prototyping, asking difficult questions, and creating projects that embody issues that are not yet commonly addressed in the art / tech world.

Who is going to teach this term?

Allison Burtch, Amit Pitaru, Casey Gollan, Taeyoon Choi, Zachary Lieberman as well as a variety of new teachers, workshop leaders, and visiting artists.

Who are we looking for?

We are looking for people from all backgrounds, who are curious, generous and open. Anyone with a passion to explore poetic computation is invited, and we are looking for diversity in all its forms. Our only expectation is that you are eager to experiment, can learn from failure, and come fully dedicated to this ten week experience. In the past, we have had students with a broad array of technical experiences and we were delighted, though unsurprised, that everyone had something to learn from each other. A group of faculty leads a selection process that is based on applicant’s answers to an application form, work samples, and short interviews.

How much is tuition?

$5000 USD for the 10 week program. You’ll also need to cover your own cost of living, including housing and meals (recent alumni report this to be in the range of $3,300 - $7,000). We are committed to being fully transparent about how we make and spend money. In the spirit of radical openness and generosity, on which the school was founded, we open-source our finances on Github. There, you can read financial reports and download raw statements.

Do you offer scholarships?

We are working on offering scholarships and work-study opportunities. While we are completely self-funded, and this dramatically limits our ability to offer scholarships, this term we are planning to offer one or two reduced tuition spots to qualified applicants. We’re particularly looking out for women, people of color, people under-represented in the field of art + technology, and those with financial need. If you consider yourself a candidate in need of financial support, please elaborate on your background and intention for joining the school in the application form.

We are actively seeking private, corporate and institutional support to open our door to more diverse students. If you are interested in sponsoring a student, email info@sfpc.io. We are able to receive tax-deductible donations through our fiscal sponsor.

What is expected of me?

Acceptance into the session is an invitation to join the SFPC community. Full-time participation during the ten weeks is strongly encouraged. It’s also expected that you work openly – sharing what you learn along the way, and that you openly collaborate with your peers. The success of the session for the group is dependent on engaged participation throughout the term.

Deadline is January 27th, 2015

In the past, we’ve received 60+ strong applications, and this time will likely be competitive as well. We select participants based on a work sample and application form. We expect to notify the applicants by February 10th. Participants are expected to plan their travel and we do our best to help find accommodation.

Apply for Spring 2015

Feel free to reach out to us if you have questions about the school: info@sfpc.io

SFPC is not really a school or a course — it is more like a door into an extraordinary world. It is driven by passion, kindness and the thrill of teaching and learning. I would love to live those inspiring weeks all over again.

Jesse Wolpert

SFPC was amazing — life-changing even — i want to do all this stuff for the rest of my life!

Rachel Uwa

I've never been consistently surprised and inspired as much as at SFPC.

Jonathan Dahan

If you think SFPC is what you think, that will be wrong. SFPC is a space for a group of people who badly want to try something new. They never tried it and probably will never try it again. SFPC will become a spirit embedded in your blood which makes you think things with a different angle, just like its motto: more poetry, less demo.

Paul Cheng

I learned a lot at SFPC. I got the opportunity to work with extremely impressive people from diverse backgrounds and amazing teachers like Taeyoon Choi, Tega Brain, Kyle McDonald, Lauren McCarthy, Jonathan Dahan, and Zachary Lieberman. It was only a 2 week program last time, but I learned many things from other participants and got the chance to explore and fail freely. SFPC helped me to reshape the way I think. It's your turn.

Hyojung Seo

School For Poetic Computation is equal parts The Factory, childhood blanket fort, and mad scientist's lab. I learned a ton from the teachers and the whole SFPC community in a huge collaborative and exploratory environment.

Lee Tusman

Attending SFPC is like walking into an all day buffet supplied with food from hyper-talented chefs. There's more than you could ever consume, naturally, and you will most likely find yourself requiring a digestion period, but holy crap is it tasty.

Daniel Wilson

My takeaway from SFPC: Never settle for code that isn't at least a little bit magic

Nathan Rosenberg

In SFPC I found a great community and it gave me the confidence to take on coding projects I couldn't have done before. Totally true, the people were great, the projects were fun, and shortly after I started a data viz project for a client I never would have gone after before, using python, processing, d3js, etc.. SFPC's also influenced my teaching work, and I'm starting to develop the curriculum for a [parametric] fabrication class

Scott Leinweber

SFPC is a welcoming environment that mixes individuals from a variety of backgrounds, in a beautiful Lower East Side space, to think about and work on beautiful and esoteric sketches with computers, programming, and circuits. The program oscillates its focus between technique, concept, context, art and design. A huge variety of guests compliment the diverse pedagogical methods and interests of the core instructors. I learned so much and had such a great time.

Andrew Kleindolph